Saturday, February 6, 2010

Political Digest February 6, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Sen. Scott Brown
“Republican senators on Thursday were excited about adding to their ranks and most of them showed up in the Senate chamber for the swearing-in ceremony. Just eight Democrats came to watch their 60-vote supermajority end,” thus demonstrating their commitment to bi-partisanship. Stupid, especially as Brown, being from Massachusetts, will need to vote with them sometimes to survive. As I often point out, it takes two sides to make a peace, only one to make a war. The same is true for bi-partisanship.

Welcome to Chicago
Please check your integrity and licensed guns at the door. Unregistered firearms okay.

Democrats struggle with lieutenant governor problem
Excerpt: Gov. Pat Quinn today said his new running mate, a Chicago pawnbroker with a 2005 domestic battery arrest, should consider withdrawing from the race because his background could hurt the Democratic ticket in the November general election. Quinn stopped short of saying Scott Lee Cohen should abandon the nomination he won in Tuesday's primary. But he said Cohen "has an obligation to step aside" if his past becomes a problem. "I always appeal to others in politics based on what's good for the people," Quinn said. Quinn was faced with the new crisis even as his rival, Dan Hynes, announced he was conceding the Democratic primary nomination for governor. Cohen, a pawnbroker who was the surprise winner in the little-publicized contest among half a dozen candidates, had previously disclosed his 2005 arrest. He described it Wednesday as an argument with his drunken girlfriend and said he didn’t lay a hand on her, though she called the police and had him taken into custody. But the official police and court records show that the woman alleged Cohen put a knife to her throat and pushed her head against the wall.

Quinn's running mate says he has "no intention of stepping down"
Excerpt: While many Democratic leaders are suggesting Scott Lee Cohen consider stepping down as the party's lieutenant governor candidate U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias is calling for Cohen to exit the race. "These are disturbing allegations," he said in a prepared statement. "Domestic abuse has no place in our society much less in public office." Scott Lee Cohen vowed to stay in the race for lieutenant governor today, saying he has shown honesty and courage that will bolster the Democratic Party’s chances in November.

Illinois Elections Worthy of National Attention
Excerpt: Don’t lose interest in the Illinois elections just because conservative Adam Andrezejewski came up short of the Republican Gubernatorial nomination last Tuesday.There are two reasons for this: first, a little-known but very solid State Senator from downstate Illinois, Bill Brady, appears to have won instead. One door may have closed and another opened. Brady is currently holding a 400+ vote lead over old-boy Republican–backed Kirk Dillard with all precincts now in. If Bill Brady wins, it will be because he ran a sharp rebel insurgency campaign. He avoided a head to head clash in the expensive Chicago media market, concentrating instead on small towns and rural areas where discontent and resentment with The Chicago Way of doing things runs high. There was a very clever, almost military thinking at work there….. The second reason to pay attention to Illinois this year is this: from top to bottom, the Democratic slate is riddled with incompetence and corruption. It will be a slow motion train wreck all the way to November. Already, the first car has jumped the rails. This morning, February 4th, local talk radio hosts were guffawing over news that Democratic candidate for the state Lieutenant Governor, Scott Lee Cohen, was arrested in 2005 and charged with holding a knife to his prostitute-girlfriend’s throat. Yes, you read that right – and he just won the primary two days ago. Cohen also has tax troubles.

LEGO My Gun: S.I. Boy Faced Suspension Over Tiny Toy
Excerpt: A fourth grade New Dorp boy faced the prospect of suspension after the principal at his South Beach school saw him playing with an action figure carrying a toy machine gun.
Patrick Timoney, a 9-year-old student at PS 52, and friends were playing with LEGOs during their lunch period when the principal took him into her office over the two-inch toy gun carried by a standard policeman figure.

Napolitano Girlfriend’s Dysfunctional NY Prisons: Muslim Cleric Smuggled Box Cutters
Excerpt: Ever since Janet Napolitano became Homeland Security Secretary, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents warned me about her girlfriend, Dora Schriro, whom she brought with her from Arizona (where Schriro headed the Arizona Department of Corrections). Schriro, a bizarre woman with a Ph.D., treated prisoners as “clients,” her name for them, gave them birthday parties and cakes, etc. And Napolitano made Schriro her special advisor on immigration enforcement, particularly detention and removal of illegal aliens. That’s why many of them are now living in hotel facilities and given perks many destitute legal American citizens would die for. Her New Age psychobabble endangered American national security and made immigration enforcement and detention a nearly impossible task.

The Obama Spell Is Broken
Unlike this president, John Kennedy was an ironist who never fell for his own mystique. wMDAwMzEwNDMyWj.html
Excerpt: The curtain has come down on what can best be described as a brief un-American moment in our history. That moment began in the fall of 2008, with the great financial panic, and gave rise to the Barack Obama phenomenon. The nation's faith in institutions and time-honored ways had cracked. In a little-known senator from Illinois millions of Americans came to see a savior who would deliver the nation out of its troubles. Gone was the empiricism in political life that had marked the American temper in politics. A charismatic leader had risen in a manner akin to the way politics plays out in distressed and Third World societies. There is nothing surprising about where Mr. Obama finds himself today. He had been made by charisma, and political magic, and has been felled by it. If his rise had been spectacular, so, too, has been his fall. The speed with which some of his devotees have turned on him—and their unwillingness to own up to what their infatuation had wrought—is nothing short of astounding. But this is the bargain Mr. Obama had made with political fortune.

Why are liberals so condescending?
Excerpt: Every political community includes some members who insist that their side has all the answers and that their adversaries are idiots. But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration. Indeed, all the appeals to bipartisanship notwithstanding, President Obama and other leading liberal voices have joined in a chorus of intellectual condescension. It's an odd time for liberals to feel smug. But even with Democratic fortunes on the wane, leading liberals insist that they have almost nothing to learn from conservatives. Many Democrats describe their troubles simply as a PR challenge, a combination of conservative misinformation -- as when Obama charges that critics of health-care reform are peddling fake fears of a "Bolshevik plot" -- and the country's failure to grasp great liberal accomplishments. "We were so busy just getting stuff done . . . that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are," the president told ABC's George Stephanopoulos in a recent interview. The benighted public is either uncomprehending or deliberately misinformed (by conservatives). This condescension is part of a long liberal tradition that for generations has impoverished American debates over the economy, social issues and the functions of government -- and threatens to do so again today, when dialogue would be more valuable than ever.

Free James O'Keefe
Excerpt: In case you wonder what the future is for justice and law enforcement and media control in this country, take a look at two cases. During the last Presidential election, a gang of men calling themselves Black Panthers showed up at a polling place in Michigan. They threatened any voter who did not vote for Barack Obama. This was witnessed and documented. (I am suspicious of their involvement with the real Black Panthers, whom I knew well in New Haven, who had a little more finesse along with many, many faults.) The bullying was barely reported in the media. Even though it is an unequivocal violation of voting rights laws, it was decided by Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder, not to prosecute the case at all. Holder is the legal genius who thought of holding the trial for the self-styled master mind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in downtown Manhattan instead of in a military setting. He has recently backtracked on that. A few days ago, four young conservatives posed as telephone repairmen and entered the branch office of Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana in New Orleans. Their goal was to check to see if the phone system in the office was working. The men, under the leadership of a young media impresario named James O'Keefe, were querying why constituents of Sen. Landrieu had been unable to register negative feelings about Obamacare on the Senator's phone line. They had been told that perhaps the phones were out of order.

China could block sanctions against Iran
Excerpt: China on Thursday threw a roadblock in the path of a U.S.-led push for sanctions against Iran, saying that it is important to continue negotiations as long as Iran appears willing to consider a deal to give up some of its enriched uranium. "To talk about sanctions at the moment will complicate the situation and might stand in the way of finding a diplomatic solution," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at a conference in Paris. After months of spurning the proposed deal, which would provide Iran with fuel for a medical reactor, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed a suddenly renewed interest in it this week just as France, a strong advocate of sanctions, assumed the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council. French Prime Minister François Fillon said Wednesday that he would ask the United Nations to adopt a resolution imposing "strong sanctions" against Iran because of its nuclear program.

The Fix
Excerpt: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) isn't the best known name in the 2012 presidential field but, as of right now, he appears to be the hardest working. Since deciding not to seek a third term as governor in June 2009 (a tacit admission of his plan to run for president), Pawlenty has been everywhere -- raising more than $1.3 million for his Freedom First PAC and traveling the country to help collect cash for aspiring candidates and state parties. Tonight Pawlenty will be in Alabama to raise money for the state party. After delivering his final state of the state address on Feb. 11, Pawlenty will embark on a series of trips -- spending four days in Washington to attend the CPAC and National Governors Association meeting, then in back to back days starting on Feb. 26 Pawlenty will speak at the Missouri then the Nevada state party Lincoln day dinners. (Of his decision to travel to Nevada, Pawlenty said on his Facebook page: "The goal is to replace Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with a Senator who values the needs of Nevadans more than the partisan interests of his political party.") To most Republicans, Pawlenty remains an unknown as evidenced by the fact that he barely breaks one or two percent in most polls conducted in the race. But, he is clearly committed to doing the legwork to put himself in position to make a serious run at the nomination in a few years time.

Left frustrated with Obama, White House staff
Excerpt: In the weeks since the Massachusetts election gave the White House a wake-up call, President Obama has made a series of gestures toward the middle even as liberals have grown increasingly frustrated. Bloomberg writes that "Obama's politics may be drawing inspiration from an unlikely source: Ronald Reagan. The late Republican president may become Democrat Obama's most relevant role model as the U.S. economic and political climate mirrors Reagan's first term, which began in 1981." The Wall Street Journal reports "Obama's willingness to keep Bush-era policies on government-backed religious charities opposed by many liberals is helping to woo traditionally Republican evangelical leaders who can influence key blocs of voters. The approach, according to conservative leaders and liberal critics alike, is part of a broader strategy by Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats to regain credibility with centrist and conservative voters who tend to be more religious and have supported the GOP in recent polls and elections." But Politico has Obama "running into resistance from congressional Democrats over several key economic proposals -- blunting the party's ability to send a clear message to middle-class voters that Democrats feel their pain. Obama has run into friction from fellow Democrats over plans to freeze some federal spending, to use bailout funds for small-business lending and to limit the reach of big banks."

E.U. no longer charmed by Obama
Excerpt: European leaders are getting a dose of reality about the limits of President Obama's patience with their long-established diplomatic traditions, as his administration seeks to change nearly two decades of U.S.-European Union summit protocol. Mr. Obama's disappointment with European allies during his first year in office, culminating in his decision to skip a long-planned May summit in Madrid, should not come as a surprise, diplomats and analysts said. In spite of unusual enthusiasm on the Continent about his 2008 election, they said, Europeans have delivered much less than the new president expected on Afghanistan, climate change and other items high on Mr. Obama's agenda. Many Europeans have had their own hopes dashed, officials on both sides of the Atlantic said. After eight often testy years dealing with President George W. Bush, they thought Mr. Obama would change the world to their liking, but now realize that any American president will act in his country's interests first.

Obama criticizes Senate Republicans for delaying confirmation votes
Excerpt: President Obama criticized senators Wednesday for using a legislative tactic he once practiced himself, saying that Republicans were delaying confirmation votes on several of his administration nominees amid policy disagreements or concerns about their qualifications. nominees for reasons unrelated to their qualifications. "We've got a huge backlog of folks who are unanimously viewed as well qualified -- nobody has a specific objection to them -- but end up having a hold on them because of some completely unrelated piece of business," Obama said at a question-and-answer session during the Senate Democratic Conference, held at the Newseum. Senate rules allow members to place a hold on nominees -- to block their consideration by the chamber -- at any time for any reason. Such holds are often placed privately, making it exceedingly difficult for those outside the Senate to track their use, and they can be a powerful tool to influence the executive branch. News reports indicate that Obama, as a senator from Illinois, placed holds on at least three Bush

The New Jersey Exit
Excerpt: Too many of those pain-in-the-neck productive people living in your state, making everyone else look bad? Want to get rid of them? Let the Garden State show you how it's done through the tax code. At one time in the not-too-distant past, New Jersey was by some measures the wealthiest state in the country. No more. Wealth is fleeing at an alarming rate. Between 2004 and 2008, more than $70 billion in wealth headed for the exit, according to a new study by Boston College's Center on Wealth and Philanthropy. Worse, it's not being replaced. Though more people moved into the state than moved out during the period of the study, the net worth of the people who fled was, at $618,300, 70% higher. Those who left also tended to be better educated, more entrepreneurial and more professional. The problem isn't New Jersey's cold winters. The productive are leaving for states where the climate is more favorable. Increases in levies on income, sales, property and millionaires have all contributed to the exodus.
What Costs $282 Million an Hour?
Excerpt: The U.S. spent $2.472 trillion on health care last year, according to a paper out today in the journal Health Affairs. That’s $282 million an hour. Health spending as a percent of GDP — a key metric that shows how much of all U.S. spending goes to health care — rose from 16.2% in 2008 to 17.3% in 2009, far higher than any other industrialized country. That’s the largest one-year increase since 1960, when the feds started closely tracking national health expenditures. The figure went up so much because health spending continued to rise, even as the overall economy shrank. The aging population accounted for a small part of this rise, but two other factors were more important: rising prices and increasing use. Health-care prices rose by 3.2% in 2009, according to the Health Affairs paper, significantly faster than prices rose for the overall economy. Utilization, which includes both volume and intensity of health-care services, rose by 1.5%.

What Happens If Nothing Happens to Health Care?
Excerpt: Conversation among Washington wonks, corporate chieftains and health-care executives isn't any longer about how "health reform" will work in practice. It's about what happens if nothing happens. Barring a political miracle, we're going to learn the cost of doing nothing—nothing significant to restrain health-care cost increases, nothing to prod the health-care system to produce more benefit for each dollar it takes, nothing to expand health-insurance coverage. This, too, will be ugly and unpopular. "Failure to enact health reform will result in increasing numbers of people without health insurance because fewer employers will offer it and many employees will not be able to pay the cost of plans that are available," predicts Stephen Zuckerman, a health economist at Washington's Urban Institute think tank. "For people not offered employer coverage, many will not be able to get coverage due to pre-existing conditions that insurers won't cover or because premiums simply won't be affordable. Even people with coverage will find costs becoming a greater financial burden," he said. And all of us—employers, workers and taxpayers—will spend ever more on health care. (Problem is, most voters don’t understand the difference between things that will reduce costs, like tort reform and interstate competition, and things that only shift costs to someone else, like taxpayers.)

No GOP ideas? Try these 10
Excerpt: President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats swung their 2008 majority stick, poked the health care hornets nest and are being chased by a popular uprising saying “no to Washington.” Obama now says he is willing to listen to Republican proposals for improving health care. Republicans believe that just passing an ObamaCare-lite will still move us toward government control, toward larger deficits and higher taxes. Instead, improvements should be separate and incremental to improve health care without financial excesses or intrusion into personal lives. Here are 10 proposals that would work, cumulatively helping the poor and middle class, be affordable, enlarge care without taking away deserved care, and be supported across party lines.

37 Democrats vote against increasing the debt?
Don't believe it. It’s an old political trick. When you have enough of a majority, you can let your members in swing districts vote off to protect them. Bet all 37 are in districts McCain carried or was close in, or where there is a strong challenger. Now they can say they voted no on this. It's all BS--trust this old politician.

The Great Peasant Revolt of 2010
Excerpt: This being a democracy, don't the Democrats see that clinging to this agenda will march them over a cliff? Don't they understand Massachusetts? Well, they understand it through a prism of two cherished axioms: (1) The people are stupid and (2) Republicans are bad. Result? The dim, led by the malicious, vote incorrectly. Liberal expressions of disdain for the intelligence and emotional maturity of the electorate have been, post-Massachusetts, remarkably unguarded. New York Times columnist Charles Blow chided Obama for not understanding the necessity of speaking "in the plain words of plain folks," because the people are "suspicious of complexity." Counseled Blow: "The next time he gives a speech, someone should tap him on the ankle and say, 'Mr. President, we're down here.'" A Time magazine blogger was even more blunt about the ankle-dwelling mob, explaining that we are "a nation of dodos" that is "too dumb to thrive." Obama joined the parade in the State of the Union address when, with supercilious modesty, he chided himself "for not explaining it (health care) more clearly to the American people." The subject, he noted, was "complex." The subject, it might also be noted, was one to which the master of complexity had devoted 29 speeches. Perhaps he did not speak slowly enough.

President contradicts himself in attacks on GOP over health care and economy
Excerpt: President Obama on Wednesday rolled out a dizzying set of accusations against the Republican party that veered toward contradicting one another, as he encouraged Senate Democrats to keep fighting for his agenda. The president, during an 80-minute session with Democratic lawmakers, made the following claims: Republicans don’t want to fix health care or the economy; when they do want to fix health care or the economy, their ideas are bad; and Republicans may have a few good ideas but Democrats have included them in legislation…

How to Blame Bush: Lie
Excerpt: Has this happened to you? You start reading an article written by a Democrat, wondering if it is just possible that he has a legitimate point. But one or two paragraphs in, you find yourself so deep in outrageously false premises that you wonder if you share the same planet. How do they manage to pack so many falsehoods into so few words?

Who lied about Iraq?
Good, older article for reference. Excerpt: Do not believe that post-invasion intelligence invalidates our justification for using military force against Saddam's Iraq. The truth is the exact opposite. The US was fully justified to use military force against Iraq, even knowing what we know now -- especially knowing what we know now.

Who are the 300 terrorists held in U.S. prisons?
Excerpt: "The Bush administration used the criminal justice system to convict more than 300 individuals on terrorism-related charges," writes Attorney General Eric Holder in a new letter to Republican critics in Congress. The letter is part of the Obama administration's aggressive defense of its decision to grant full American constitutional rights to al Qaeda soldier Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the accused Christmas Day bomber. That defense boils down to one sentence: Bush did it, too. Republicans on Capitol Hill object. They argue that one of the reasons some terrorists were handled in the criminal justice system is that it took George W. Bush and Congress years to establish a military tribunal system that satisfied constitutional requirements -- a process that was lengthened by legal challenges filed by some of the same lawyers who now work in Holder's Justice Department. You can argue about that forever. But there's one serious factual debate going on about Holder's letter, and that concerns those "300 individuals." Just who are they? It turns out some lawmakers have been trying for months to get an answer. They're not saying the claim is false -- they just want to see what it's based on. But so far they haven't been able to find out.

'Corpse-man': Obama also needs a pronounce-o-prompter
Excerpt: Over at RealClearPolitics, they show the video of President Obama mispronouncing the word "corpsman" this morning. It's embarrassing all on its own, but it also makes one wonder about the story he's telling. Surely, the corpsman he refers to does not introduce himself as a "corpse-man."

Holder's ignorance of terrorism
Excerpt: The U.S. attorney general should read up on the history of terrorism. He might learn something. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sent a five-page letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, detailing his rationale for treating purported Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a criminal suspect rather than a terrorist detainee. The attorney general's defense betrays significant misreading of how the United States has dealt with terrorism in recent decades. Mr. Holder incredibly claims that policies treating terrorists as criminals "were not criticized when employed by previous Administrations [and] have been and remain extremely effective in protecting national security." Mr. Holder must be new to this issue. The problem of granting terrorists criminal status was at the center of the debate among counterterrorism scholars and practitioners in the 1990s. The policies of the Clinton era, which the Obama administration generally has resurrected, were critiqued in detail. Many warned that the domestic legal framework was insufficient to protect the United States from the emerging threat of globally networked Islamic terrorism. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, vindicated this argument. The Bush administration, armed with the Patriot Act and other important reforms, charted a new and more effective course that the current administration is in the process of dismantling. Mr. Holder cited Zacarias Moussaoui as an example of a successful terrorism prosecution, ironically choosing the worst possible example to make his case. Moussaoui could be the poster child for the perils of Mr. Holder's preferred policies.

Turkish girl, 16, 'buried alive by her father because she had friendships with boys'
Listening for the cries of outrage and condemnation from Muslim religious leaders. Excerpt: A 16-year-old Turkish girl died after being buried alive under a chicken coop by relatives because she talked to boys. The body of Medine Memi was found in a sitting position with her hands tied in a 6ft hole dug in the courtyard of her family's home in Kahta, south-eastern Turkey, 40 days after she had been reported missing. The hole had been cemented over. The teenager had a large amount of soil in her lungs and stomach - showing she suffered a slow and agonising death. 'The post mortem result is blood-curdling. According to our findings, the girl – who had no bruises on her body and no sign of narcotics or poison in her blood – was alive and fully conscious when she was buried,' said a forensics expert.

British woman facing lashes and jail in Iran for 'supporting anti-government protests'
Excerpt: A British woman faces being whipped and imprisoned after she was put on trial in Tehran for supporting anti-government protests. The unnamed woman, 24, the daughter of a British mother and Iranian father, has admitted charges including attending demonstrations, consorting with foreigners and drinking alcohol. The Foreign Office has asked the Iranian government for clarification of the reports, but the woman is unlikely to be granted consular assistance because Iran does not recognise dual nationality.

Muslim women 'radicalised' in UK
Excerpt: On Monday a female suicide bomber killed 54 people in north-east Baghdad. The attack may have happened on another continent, but there are increasing concerns that violent extremism among women may now also be increasing in the UK. It is believed that the process of radicalisation often takes place at universities.One Islamist group linked with this practice is Hizb ut-Tahrir. While not itself connected to any terrorist acts, Hizb ut-Tahrir has courted controversy and politicians have seized on some of its more inflammatory views. The Conservative Party has said it would ban the organisation altogether.

Kashmir militants vow jihad against Indian rule§ion=international
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. Excerpt: Pakistani militant leaders vowed Thursday to press holy war to “liberate” the divided Himalayan state of Kashmir from Indian control and called for moral support from Pakistan. They addressed a rally attended by thousands as India proposed foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan, signalling a breakthrough in relations frozen since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on Pakistani militants. “The Kashmir issue cannot be resolved through dialogue. Jihad (holy war) is the only solution to free Kashmir from the Indian yoke,” said Syed Salahuddin, chairman of the 16-party United Jihad Council.

Grade Obama’s first year in office

Tell Obama what to do? Yes, we can
Humor from Down Under.

Harry Reid could take his light-skinned friends!
Excerpt: NBC served up a mountain of controversy Thursday after a cafeteria menu offered fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread in honor of Black History Month.

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